Church plans prayer rallies vs RH law

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 03 2013 03:26 PM | Updated as of Jan 03 2013 11:26 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Catholic Church is planning big prayer rallies to protest Republic Act No. 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, according to the lawyer of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

CBCP lawyer Jo Imbong is representing the couple James and Lovely-Ann Imbong, who filed the a 27-page petition for certiorari and prohibition urging the Supreme Court to declare the RH law null and void.

Speaking to AFP, the lawyer said "the state has no business entering the bedroom.”

"This law corrupts Philippine culture, mainly the emphasis we put on family values and marriage, taking care of children and parenting," she said, having earlier warned that lay Catholics would challenge the law in court.

She noted the Philippine Constitution guaranteed the protection of the family and in passing the law "the government overstepped its powers.”

"This is just the first salvo," she added. "We are paving the way for other similar suits from many faith-based groups."

Imbong said big "prayer rallies" were being planned across the country in the weeks to come.

The law will take effect on January 17, unless the Supreme Court issues an injunction. Court officials have not indicated if they will hear legal challenges to the law before then.

The law requires government health centers hand out free condoms and birth-control pills, benefiting tens of millions of the country's poor who would not otherwise be able to afford or have access to them.

It also mandates that sex education be taught in schools and public health workers receive family-planning training.

Proponents have said the law will slow the country's rapid population growth, cut poverty and reduce the number of mothers dying at child birth.

The Catholic Church had managed to stall the legislation for more than a decade, cowing legislators and presidents by threatening to turn the public against them.

Eighty percent of the country's roughly 100 million people are Catholic, and the church helped lead "people power" revolutions that toppled two corrupt presidents over the past 27 years.

Nevertheless, public opinion surveys have consistently shown a majority of Filipinos support the "Responsible Parenthood Act". Report by Agence France-Presse